Bush to focus on world economy, food supply at G8
US President George W Bush left Washington for the G8 meeting in Japan, where he aims to highlight Africa's battles against hunger and deadly diseases and assuage Japanese on his North Korea policy.
Bush took off from Dulles International Airport outside Washington at about 12:30 pm (2000 IST) for the summit on the northern island of Hokkaido.
Leaders of the eight major industrial powers meet starting Monday at the Hokkaido resort of Toyako, where they are reportedly set to agree on a new system of "food reserves"to assist hungry nations.
According to Japan's Asahi Shimbun each of the G8 members -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- will contribute grain to the global reserves.
On Wednesday Bush said he will use the summit to press for progress on global efforts to fight climate change, promote free trade, and push G8 leaders to make good on pledges to help Africa fight HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.
"We need people who not only make promises, but write checks," said the president, who will celebrate his 62nd birthday on July 6 in Japan.
Bush was also expected to hold bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda as well as leaders of Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and seven African "observer" countries.
In addition to trying to revive global free trade talks, Bush hoped to win more support for a hard line on Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Burma's military rulers, while soothing Japanese anger at US policies towards North Korea.